Grammar is the Yoga of the Supermind
Some time ago, I read a peculiar book by Michael Murphy called Golf in the Kingdom, which was Murphy’s story about meeting a mystic in Scotland, (pseudonymously named “Shivas Irons”), who also happened to be a golf professional, and who expressed his vision through golf. “Mystic Golf”, we might call it. Murphy ended up spending some time with Shivas Irons and his small circle of friends, one of whom insisted that “golf is the yoga of the Supermind”.
Evidently, Irons’ friend had some acquaintance with Aurobindo Ghose and his “Integral Yoga”. But this was the first time I had ever come across the term “Supermind”, and only much later did I realise the connection between Golf in the Kingdom and Aurobindo’s Integral Yoga.
I think I am justified in rewording that — “grammar is the yoga of the Supermind”, for golf also has a grammar, and is, in some ways, even a symbolic performance of grammar and grammatical relationships, with a similar structure, protocols, traditions, movements, etc.
It is, moreover, becoming increasingly more common to speak of certain things as having a “grammar” moreso than a “logic”, including Prigogine’s description of thermodynamics as “man’s new dialogue with Nature”. This newer tendency to speak of “grammars of creation” (George Steiner) and the dialogical, rather than logic and the dialectical, is itself an indication of a change in consciousness, for grammar is articulation and patterning, both.
Inasmuch as yoga also is a “joining together”, ergo an articulation, it is also appropriate to speak of the grammar of yoga, too. Aurobindo’s “Integral Yoga” is an articulation of the fourfold human in terms of the mental, the vital, the psychical, and the spiritual — mind, body, soul, spirit, respectively — within a unified consciousness called “Supermind” — Gebser’s “integral consciousness”.
“All this is Brahman; this self is the Brahman and the self is fourfold. Beyond relation, featureless, unthinkable, in which all is still” — Upanishads
In his Autobiography of a Yogi, Yogananda stated that to arrive at the root and source of language, consciously, is the same as “enlightenment”. Grammatical speech has always been deemed to have a divine origin. “In the beginning was the Word…” (St. John); “God is the power that makes men speak” (Rosenstock-Huessy); “the Sacred Hoop is in language”. Our modern analytically-minded education has never done justice to the fuller meaning of grammar as more than the “parts of speech”, when it was the proper and dynamic relationship between these parts of speech that was the crucial issue of grammar, because it is precisely this fourfold character of the human as mind, body, soul, and spirit that is represented in the grammatical structure and in the relationship between the grammatical forms.
Grammar is the mirror of the fourfold human and is its articulation. Becoming conscious of grammar as such is what Rosenstock-Huessy calls “metanomics” and also “metanoia“. The secrets of consciousness and cosmos are encoded in human grammars. “The grammatical mirror”, as Jean Gebser called it.
It’s that conviction that underlies both Jean Gebser’s kulturphilosophie of the origins and history of consciousness as well as Rosenstock-Huessy’s “grammatical method” and “cross of reality”. Both Gebser and Rosenstock-Huessy look to changes in grammatical relations for empirical evidence of corresponding changes in human consciousness. In any true revolutionary process, a new language is born as witness to a change in consciousness structure.
In his grammar of modern history, called Out of Revolution: Autobiography of Western Man, Rosenstock-Huessy revealed this same fourfold pattern emergent in the history of the European Revolutions — the Lutheran Reformation, the English Glorious Revolution, the French Revolution and the Russian Revolution. Each was a specialist attempt to find a new equilibrium after the breakdown and disintegration of the Age of Faith — the mythico-religious structure of consciousness — in those terms of mind, body, soul, and spirit, or the mental, the vital, the psychical, and the spiritual. The principle established by each of the four revolutions represented a hypertrophied exaggeration of one of the four aspects of the fourfold human.
It’s on the basis of this interpretation of a grammar of history and of the modern revolutions, that Rosenstock-Huessy anticipated yet a fifth to come which, he believed, would integrate the four principles of the modern revolutions into a fifth structure, and the central principle of the fifth or quintessential revolution would be the principle of “health”.
This fifth is the structure that Gebser anticipates as “integral consciousness”. There is a remarkable congruence between the two thinkers even though they did not seem to be aware of each other’s works.
It makes sense that changes in grammatical structure and in language would correspond to deep changes in the consciousness structure. A change in consciousness means the perception of relationships between things that were not even visible or not seen as connected to the older structure of consciousness. The mode of perception changes along with a creative struggle to represent those changes grammatically and linguistically (although not necessarily consciously). Any change in one of the four aspects of the fourfold human, considered in terms of mind, body, soul, and spirit, necessitates a corresponding change in all the others in an attempt to preserve integrity of the whole — a new equilibrium or homeostasis.
This may not be a conscious process, and very often it is not. Usually, the attempt to return to equilibrium occurs violently.
Our understanding, hitherto, has been that equilibrium is a condition between two variables — two antitheses are resolved in a synthesis which then provokes a new antithesis, etc, etc. Both Rosenstock-Huessy and Gebser have shown that equilibrium is a fourfold issue — the two fronts of space (subject and object) and the two fronts of time (traject and preject, as Rosenstock-Huessy calls them). Grammatical speech is the matrix in which the changes in consciousness unfold, and the matrix is represented as the “cross of reality”,
Coming to full awareness of this fourfold being, expressed as the quadrilateral or grammatical matrix, is the fifth, and that is identical with the integral.
Changes in the mental and psychic energies of the human form are made visible and audible (concretion) in the grammatical forms and relations — in the grammatical matrix itself. If it were not so, it would simply be someone’s private metaphysics and inconsequential on that account. Grammar is an ecology in itself, and forms a matrix in that sense, also governed by ecodynamic laws, so coming to think in terms of grammar instead of logic is consistent with current trend towards holism. Grammar and ecology are pretty much identical.